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FORESTS AND FOREST PLANTS Vol.

III - Forest Resource Management - Lingzhi Chen

FOREST RESOURCE MANAGEMENT


Lingzhi Chen
Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, P. R. China
Keywords : Forest, resource, management
Contents

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1. Introduction
2. Historical Review of Forest Resource Management
3. The Status of World Forests
4. Approaches of Forest Resource Management
4.1 Forest Management for Ecosystem Service
4.2 Forest Management for Timber Production
4.3 Forest Resource Management for Non-timber Production
4.3.1 Grazing
4.3.2 Wildlife Conservation and Hunting
4.3.3 Medicine and Food
4.3.4 Recreation
4.4 Restoration and Rehabilitation of Destroyed Forests
4.5 Community Forestry
Acknowledgements
Glossary
Bibliography
Biographical Sketch
Summary

Forest has been regarded as a type of ecosystem. The conservation, restoration, and
sustainable use of forest ecosystems and biodiversity are the basic issues for forest
resource management. A century ago, a large area of forests disappeared worldwide,
because timber production was the major goal for forest resource management during
that time, and only a few people were concerned about the sustainability of forest
resources. There are two different point of views concerning forest: one sees the forest
as a product by human activity, that people may conquer nature; the other regards the
forest as a natural product, the construction and usage of which should comply with the
natural rules of forest dynamics. The latter concept is now accepted by most scholars.
Although the sustainable use of forest resources in forest ecosystem management has
been debated continuously, it is still an important strategy for forest management. There
was 3540 million km2 of forest area in the world estimated by FAO in 1995 and
WCMC in 1996. The increasing loss of forest areas encourages people to consider how
to manage the remaining forests worldwide. Humanity faces serious environmental
problems, and deforestation is one of the major elements affecting human survival. The
establishment of protected areas of representative forest ecosystem in bioregions is a
critical method to guarantee ecosystem service for benefiting present and future
generations. Forest management has to maintain the stability, natural dynamic, and

Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)

FORESTS AND FOREST PLANTS Vol. III - Forest Resource Management - Lingzhi Chen

health of forests. Timber production is a core goal for forest management, but clearcutting, over-harvesting, and selective logging severely reduces the quantity and quality
of natural forests. Many countries ban timber harvesting in old growth forests or natural
forests, and may provide alternative sources of timber supply by establishing new
plantations.

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The management of non-timber products, such as grazing, wildlife conservation and


hunting, medicine, food, and recreation is constrained by the external and internal
variables, which decide the production possibility for any forest products. The
restoration and rehabilitation of forest resources are based on the theories of community
ecology, population biology, and ecology. The concept of community forestry is that
any activity participated in by organized local people including afforestation and
production of forest products has to meet the requirements of farmer households and
villages, and at the same time protect the existing environment. Recently, agroforestry
has been adopted to produce timber, fuels, food, and forest products to meet the
demands of local people and reduce the pressure on natural forests.
1. Introduction

The forest is a living system composed of many species of flora, fauna, and
microorganisms interacting together and environment in which they occur. Thus, forest
has been regarded as a type of ecosystem, which is an important component of life
support systems. These plants, animals and micro-organisms in a forest ecosystem
provide forest products desired by economic development. Trees together with shrubs
and herbs under the trees in the forest provide not only timber, but food, shelter and
habitat for wildlife. Living organisms in the forest ecosystem can be used for fuel, food,
medicines, herbages, etc. The forest ecosystem service is of great benefit to humanity,
particularly for improvement of our living environment, and providing recreational and
aesthetic experience. For all of these reasons, the forest should be managed as a system
if all the functions and products are expected. However, sometimes there are conflicts
when production of one product causes the destruction of others, such as timber
production with a clear-cutting approach. No single forest stand is able to fulfill the
concept of sustainability in every respect of multiple use at all times; therefore, the
long-term development of an entire forest is of more significance than the state of a
specific forest stand at any one time. The goal should be that all forest areas are
managed for sustainable multiple use if possible. Thus, different management
approaches of various forest types will be adopted according to the forest functions and
sustainable utilization desired by society. The total state of the use of national forests
over the decades can be viewed as implicit evidence that forest resource management of
multiple objectives has been reasonably successful.
2. Historical Review of Forest Resource Management
The utilization and management of forest resources has a long history. Agriculture was
the major economic activity before the sixteenth century and a large amount of forest
areas throughout Europe, Northern America, and Asia were converted into arable lands
and grasslands for grazing. Often people viewed the forest as a hindrance to the
development of agriculture and animal husbandry, so management could be ignored.

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FORESTS AND FOREST PLANTS Vol. III - Forest Resource Management - Lingzhi Chen

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Wood from the forests were prepared for use in fuel, building, means of transportation,
and productive tools. The rapid development of the industries of iron-smelting and
glass, which demanded large amounts of charcoal in several European countries during
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, meant that forests were increasingly being
destroyed. Since then, large amounts of timber have been needed for industrial
development and population growth. The Industrial Revolution developed social
productivity at an unprecedented rate, with the demand of timber for industry increasing
rapidly. As a result, forest resources were destroyed on a wide scale from the middle of
eighteenth century through the nineteenth century. During that period, when the United
Kingdom was experiencing the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, 90 percent of
timber was imported from other countries; a timber risk also occurred in Germany.
Large areas of forest in the southern part of Sweden decreased to considerable extent
and forests in the western part of Sweden were almost exhausted. The original forests in
the southern and western parts of Finland and on the west coast of Norway also began
to be destroyed. Forests in Asia and Australia were being cut. Only the vast extent of
natural forests in the United States, Canada and Tsarist Russia were maintained, where
the forest resources were the richest. Lately, wars have destroyed economic
development and accelerated the rate of deforestation worldwide.
The core issue of forest management during the later part of the nineteenth century
through to the middle of the twentieth century was timber production, with the aim
being to obtain the most economic benefits possible. During this period, a series of
forestry policies encouraged tree plantation, regulated the use of wood products and
consumption patterns, and emphasized forest management in accordance with the law.
Several countries had adopted the strategy of importing timber from other countries and
ignoring the restoration of their own forests. This rapid loss of forest worldwide
reminded us that people should consider the strategy of forest resource management.
There are two different points of view concerning forest: one deems the forest as a
product of human activity, according to the concept that people may conquer nature;
the other regards the forest as a natural product, arguing that the building and utilization
of forests should comply with the natural rule of forest dynamics, avoiding additional
energy. The latter concept is now generally accepted by most scholars; the trilogy of
economic, social, and ecological benefits must be harmonized, but the question of how
to sustainably manage forest resources with multiple objectives based on natural rule
has been debated continuously.
3. The Status of World Forests

According to FAO and WCMC estimates of 1995-1996, there are 3540 million km2 of
forest areas on Earth, occupying 27% of land area, including natural forests and forest
plantations. Among the worlds forests, North America, Russia, and South America
each maintained over 8 million km2 of forest areas; the sum of these three regions had
more forest area than all the others. Africa had the next largest forest area, with over 5
million km2; the least-forested area was the Caribbean region with about 50 000 km2. In
total, Europe and Continental South and South-East Asia possessed 1.8 million and 1.7
million km2 of forest area, respectively. The total forest areas of Australasia, Insular
South-East Asia, and the Far East extended to over 1.4 million km2 each.

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FORESTS AND FOREST PLANTS Vol. III - Forest Resource Management - Lingzhi Chen

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The decline of world forests (estimated at 50 million km2 by the FAO at mid-twentieth
century) has been rapid mainly because of the severe destruction of large areas of
tropical forests. About 16 800 km2 of tropical rainforest in the Amazon were destroyed
in 1998 (reported by official sources of Brazil), and 550 000 km2 of tropical rainforest
(with 10 percent of total areas of certain forests) disappeared during the period 1978
1998. The forested land cleared in the Amazon has been used as cattle range, with the
Brazilian government planning to develop a further 2.2 million ha of forests for
commercial logging. The forest coverage of Malaysia reached 59%, but the tropical
forest in Borneo and Sumatra were denuded and nearly 800 000 ha of forest per year
were harvested. Massive deforestation was taking place as well in dry forests and
woodlands, especially in tropical Australia, and 500 000 ha of forested land have being
cut each year mainly for cattle grazing. Thus, the deforestation rate in Australia has
grown; official estimates in December 1997 show that 5 million ha of land had been cut
from 1983 to 1993. The annual cutting rate in Queensland was 262 000 ha during the
period 1991 to 1995.
Although the forest coverage of Europe and China is increasing, old growth forests,
natural forests, and other forests with high biodiversity values have almost disappeared,
except for forests in some protected areas. Some of the remaining forests are also
suffering from interference in various areas. Fire caused by nature or human being is a
critical factor in forest damage. The largest areas of forest burned are in Brazil and
Indonesia. In Brazil, over 2 million ha of forests in 1997, and over 600 000 ha of forest
in 1998 were burned by fire. Huge fires raged out of control for several weeks in
summer and autumn 1997-1998, destroying up to 2 million ha of forests in Indonesia. A
large amount of tropical forests in the Philippines, Thailand, Chile, Mexico, and Central
America, and at least 250 000 ha of forest in Florida, USA were burned. Fires also
threatened the temperate forests in Khabarovsk Krai, Russia; 85 percent of forest fires
were human-induced. Two-thirds of forests in Sakhalin Island were affected by fires.
More than 150 000 ha of coniferous forest were burned in various parts of Greece in
1998. Frequently, fires threaten the remaining temperate and subtropical natural forests
of China. In recent times, the worst years for forest fires worldwide were 1997 and
1998.

Mining activities are increasing and these have impacts on forests with the most
abundant biodiversity in the world. There are five mining hotspots in some of the
worlds richest forests: the tropical moist forests in the Guyanan and Andean regions of
Latin America; the Congolean forests in Western Central Africa; the boreal forests in
the Far East and Siberian Russia; in Northern Canada; and the moist and dry forest,
mountain and lowland forests and mangroves in the Pacific Rim. Mining severely
threatens the largest remaining tropical forests in the Congo Basin of Africa, and the
worlds largest iron mine in Brazilcarved from Amazon forestsaffected about 900
000 km2 of forests, with 55 to 60 percent being destroyed or seriously degraded by
1996, and 2 000 km2 of forests flooded for hydro-electric power. Many national parks
and nature reserves with high biodiversity value are threatened by small-scale and
illegal mining. It has also been known for some mines to encourage legal and illegal
logging for construction of access roads and power lines. In fact, the benefits from
mining are obtained mostly by developed countries, with developing countries often

Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)

FORESTS AND FOREST PLANTS Vol. III - Forest Resource Management - Lingzhi Chen

carrying the costforest loss, energy use, and pollution (air pollution is extending
throughout the world, damaging the forests health).
Since deforestation is one of the major elements affecting human survival and economic
development, the present situation of the worlds forests has forced us to protect,
rationally manage, restore, and rehabilitate global forest resources.
4. Approaches of Forest Resource Management

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Scientists recognize that ecology is the theoretical basis for forest resource
management, since the forest ecosystem is characterized by diverse biota, multiple
layers, and functional diversity. The forest ecosystem contains hundreds to thousands
of species with diverse richness, population structure, distributed patterns, and life
cycle. There are three major components of the food chain in an ecosystemproducer,
consumer, and decomposer; the food chain reveals one of the interactions amongst
organisms. Each organism participates in a number of interactions, both with other
organisms and with factors in the physical environment.
Other major kinds of interactions include competition, plantherbivore, plantparasite,
and preypredator, etc. Competition in plants is manifested largely through struggle for
light to obtain enough energy for photosynthesis, and plants that grow in the shade of
others have evolved mechanisms for carrying on photosynthesis at low light intensity.
The competition for water and nutrients is important for plants as well. Plants are able
to use light energy, water, and nutrients to manufacture their own foodsthis is
autotrophic production within the ecosystem.
Competition in animals is a struggle for food, habitat, or territory. Animals that feed on
plants are herbivores, or primary consumers. Animals that feed on other animals are
secondary consumerspredators, carnivores, and parasites. Decomposers obtain energy
from litter and debris through decomposition.
A multiple-layered structure of a forest ecosystem consists of tree, shrub, herb, and litter
layers. The tree layer in most natural forests can usually be divided into 23 sublayers,
or 35 sublayers of canopy for tropical rainforest. The shrub and herb layers under the
canopy occupy the lower space; different species find their own niche. The litter layer is
the most critical place for nutrient cycling; this is the habitat for most of the
decomposers, such as fungi, bacteria, earthworms, and other invertebrates. Multiplelayered forest provides more food, shelter , and habitat for wildlife as well.
Forest resource management should consider not only the components of an ecosystem,
but also the ecosystem processes. If people over-harvest one component of an
ecosystem, it might affect the othersfor example, the interaction among biota and
with their abiotic environmenteventually affects the entire ecosystem. Thus, the
holistic ecosystem approach to forest resource management is being put in practice.
Although a widely-accepted theory of forest ecosystem management has not been
defined, forest ecosystem management refers to maintaining the basic structure and
function of ecosystems through time for sustainable multiple use, and to enhancing the
quality of the environment to best meet the needs of society.

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Bibliography

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Cathy W. Dahms and Brian W. Geils (1997). An Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Health in Southwest, 95
pp. USDA Service. General Technical Report RM-GTR-295. [This presents forest and ecosystem
management.]
Division of Forest Policy of National Forest and Nature Agency (1994). Strategy for Sustainable Forest
Management, 65 pp. Ministry of the Environment. [This provides the criteria for sustainable management
of forest.]
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (1999). State of the Worlds Forests, 154 pp.
FAO. [This presents the status of forest resources, and status and trends in forest management.]
Guangxia Cao, Jiru Xue, Yongliang Zhu, Xurong Tang, and Ren Zhuge (1994). Community Forestry,
120 pp. Yunnan Science and Technology Press (in Chinese). [This presents the concept and principles of
community forestry and agroforestry modes in Asia.]
Hatzfeldt H. ed. (1994). Ecological Forestry: Theory and Practice, 259 pp. [This work presents the
concept and measures of close to nature forestry in Europe.]
Heywood V. H., ed. (1995). Global Biodiversity Assessment, 1140 pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press/UNEP. [This presents ecosystem theory and concepts of ecosystem function and service.]
IUCN/WWF (1999). Metals from the forests. Arborvitae, January, 36. [This presents the mining hotspots
and impacts on forests.]

IUCN/WWF (1998). Arborvitae 710. [These newsletters present the details of forest fires in several
countries.]

Li Jingwei, (1997). The Ecology and Management of Korean-Pine Mixed Forest in NE China, 312pp.
China: Northeast Forestry University Press (in Chinese). [This presents the trends of forest management
at worldwide and a case study of mixed forest management.]
Lin Feng Ming, ed. (1996). World Forestry Industry Policy, 315 pp. China: Chinese Forestry Press (in
Chinese). [This presents the historical development of forest management in the world.]
Peng S. (1996). Forest Community Dynamics of Southern Subtropical Zone, 444 pp. China: Science
Press (in Chinese). [This shows the succession and restoration of subtropical and temperate forests.]
WCMC
(1998).
A
global
overview
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conservation,
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http://www.wcmc.uk/forest/data/cdrom2/conclus.htm [This data from the Internet presents the forest
areas and their distribution.]
Young P. A. (1982). Introduction to Forest Science, 544 pp. New York: John Wiley & Sons. [This
presents forest management in the United States.]

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FORESTS AND FOREST PLANTS Vol. III - Forest Resource Management - Lingzhi Chen

Biographical Sketch

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Lingzhi Chen was born on 20 January 1933, in Shanghai, China, and graduated from the Department of
Biology, Fuda University in 1954, and as a visiting scholar working in the Institute of Terrestrial
Ecology, Merlewood Research Station, UK from 19791981. Since 1986 she has been Professor of Plant
Ecology at the Center of Plant Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation, Institute of Botany, Chinese
Academy of Sciences (CAS). Her relevant work experiences are in the following fields: the
characteristics of mountainous vegetation types and their distribution role in Chinese temperate regions;
planning the development of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, and sideline production; research on
biomass, energy flow, water and nutrient cycling, and litter decomposition of forests; conservation of
biodiversity; and studies on the effect of contaminated material on plant and soil and protection of the
natural environment in the mountainous regions of temperate zone China. Several monographs have been
published, including The Ecology of Beijing Tianjin Region (1990), Biodiversity in China (1993), Study
on Regressive Ecosystem in China (1995), Nutrient Cycling of Forest Ecosystem in China (1997), Forest
Diversity and Its Geographical Distribution in China (1997), Studies on Structure and Function of Forest
Ecosystem in Warm-temperate Zone (1997), and The Effect of Human Activity on Ecosystem Diversity
(1999). More than 80 papers have been published, including Studies on Chinese Arbevitae (Platycladus
orientalis) Forest and Its Biomass in Beijing (1986), The Chemical Element of Planted Forest of Pinus
tabulaeformis (1987), The Ordination, Quantitative Classification of Montane Coniferous Forest in
Warm-temperate Region (1992), and Frontiers in Biodiversity Science (1997 et al.). Professor Chen is
the Biodiversity Expert of the Global Environment Facility, Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel,
UNEP; a member of the Biodiversity Committee CAS; a standing member of the Editorial Board of
Chinese Vegetation Map at 1:1 million; a member of the Editorial Board of Acta Phytoeologica Sinica;
and was the member of Chinese Council for International Cooperation in Environment and Development,
Biodiversity Working Group. Professor Chen is also a standing member of the Council of Chinese
Botanical Society, Editor-in-Chief of Acta Phytoecologica Sinica; and Vice Editor-in-Chief of Chinese
Biodiversity.

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